(CNN) – Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi "will not be staying in Englewood, New Jersey, if he comes to the United States" for the U.N. General Assembly next month, a congressman leading the effort to keep him away said Friday.
Rep. Steve Rothman, D-New Jersey, issued a statement Friday saying that's what he had been told by representatives of the Libyan government.
The State Department said it could not confirm the move, and Rothman said the decision also had not been confirmed by the White House. The Libyan Embassy could not be reached for comment.
Rothman welcomed the news, saying Gadhafi's "appearance would have presented unnecessary safety and security issues for the residents of Englewood and the Libyan diplomats."
The New Jersey town was abuzz with speculation that Gadhafi would pitch his trademark Bedouin tent, which he travels with internationally, on the lawn of a residence owned by the Libyan government in the affluent New Jersey suburb. Hundreds of workers have been renovating the property, supposedly in anticipation of Gadhafi's visit, after reports that the city of New York denied his request to pitch the tent in Central Park.
The State Department had been working to persuade the Libyans to find an alternative location for Gadhafi's tent amid fierce opposition by Englewood residents.
Mayor Michael Wildes said earlier in the day that he planned to seek a court injunction to halt work on the mansion being refurbished by the Libyan Mission to the United Nations.
"They're not welcome and I don't want them sleeping in my city" Wildes told CNN.
He said he was set to ask a judge for the injunction based on building violations that included unlawful tree removal, stream encroachment, disregard for state construction laws, and engineering violations.
Citing the adage "If you build it, they will come" - only in reverse - Wildes said he believed that if the court stopped the construction project, the Libyans would be likely to stay away from Englewood.
Furthermore, he said, "They're terrorists and they have no business here while we're fighting a war on terrorism."
Both New Jersey's senators and Rothman have been lobbying the Obama administration to block Gadhafi from the town. Suggestions for accomplishing that included limiting his delegation to the area around the United Nations Building in New York City or invoking a State Department regulation allowing it to limit specific uses of diplomatic property.
Rothman thanked President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and "literally dozens of their appointees" who have worked on the
issue, as well as the Libyan government "for their hard work and consideration in resolving this matter in such a positive fashion."
Anger at Gadhafi was stirred up earlier this month when he permitted a large welcome for Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988.
Al Megrahi was released by Scottish authorities on compassionate medical grounds and the celebration of his homecoming has infuriated some families of the Pan Am 103 victims, some of whom live in New Jersey.